TV Influence

I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit to, watching TV in the last month. This isn’t out of choice, but more out of not wanting to go crazy while being ill and while trying to recover.

Today I was catching up on some of the programs I have recorded over the last week, as the weather really put me off venturing outside. I found myself particularly drawn in by ‘Happy Valley’. It was a recommendation and I have to confess, I’ll be making sure I catch up on the previous series.

As I was watching Sarah Lancashire’s character sergeant Catherine Cawood, battle her way through a gruesome find, I wondered how many characters of TV have inspired members of the public to take on a career.

There are many who see television, particularly fictional dramas or soaps, as being useless and mind-numbing, but as I was watching the portrayal of a police officer’s work, I wondered about those who have perhaps taken (or will take) up a job in the force thanks to a series such as this.

I remember watching The X-Files (the first time round) and being inspired by the character of Scully. Not simply because she (almost) made having ‘ginger’ hair bearable, but because of the work that she carried out and the things she was able to uncover through science. It was because of this series that I moved on from wanting to be a paramedic (that was the fault of ‘Casualty’) and instead, work towards Forensic science.

Of course, my ability to remain focused in College disappeared when I started working for the BBC and I fell head over heels for Radio, but there was a large period of my life which was almost shaped, thanks to the work of Actors and Actresses on ‘the box’.

I guess it’s one of the only ways we are exposed to these lives as children. Unless friends or family are in a job, how else can we know what one can involve? Obviously, I appreciate that the jobs aren’t exactly how they seem on the TV, but there is a large amount of truth in these shows (The X-Files not so much!).

I am wishing that I had paid more attention to ‘The Good Life’ when growing up though. As daft as it may seem, the self-sufficient lifestyle is becoming more and more appealing as I get older!

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Yellow socks and a crush

Commuting. You have to love it. No, seriously, you have to. If not, you leave.

I pondered this earlier when wedged between the armpit of a rather handsome man (he smelt of lovely aftershave too – would it have been wrong to mention this to him?), a middle aged lady, two young men (one rather smiley and the other behind me so I could only hear him) and a young woman. How we all managed to occupy a space of about one sq meter I don’t know, but it’s some special magic applied to the likes of the Jubilee Line at London Bridge.

Middle aged lady and I couldn’t help but laugh as we pulled into Southwark and no one wanted to get off. All we could hear was ‘for godsake’ coming from the equally crowded platform.

Eventually, as we pulled in to Waterloo, someone wanted to get out of the tin can and I had to force my way off, pushing smiley man out and to the platform, moaning as I went that I probably wouldn’t get back on. Smiley did what he obviously does best and smiled back at me. Encouraged by the eye contact of a fellow commuter I asked why we do this. He laughed and agreed and then, when the people had finished exiting the train, he waved me back on before anyone else. Thank you Mr Smiley.

I found this brief mutual appreciation of our hell from a fellow passenger rather soothing. Two stops later and I was even granted the gift of a seat! When I departed my train, I followed a rather jolly man with squeaky shoes and the most amazing socks. Yellow with black dots. I was mesmerized by these and quite disappointed that they weren’t there to entertain me while I was trying not to launch my bag into the sensitive parts of Mr Handsome from the Jubilee line. It’s these little things my friend, that keep you sane when wedged in a train/tube.

I found myself apologising profusely to another gentleman when I squeezed (ok, pushed) myself onto the Bakerloo line. I can’t help but apologise. It wasn’t his fault there was no room. Although having to spend one stop on tiptoes in order to not stand on some other poor man’s feet was, perhaps, a bit too much.

The other dilemma when commuting is hair. Men don’t tend to have this problem, but as a woman with long hair, it’s a nightmare. When you are squeezed between people, you are trapped. If the hair is down, you risk overheating. If the hair is up, you risk everyone around you getting a taste of your latest shampoo and/or hairspray when you turn. Or in my case, the latest frizz controlling product.

I was feeling rather pleased at Paddington having survived the tube part of my journey. More smiles headed my way as the guard at Platform 11 was trying to herd people to their correct trains.

The problem of knowing where your train will leave from, is when things change. He saved multiple people from missing the right one and mostly because he recognised them! Good work that man!

Alone

Well, it’s been a considerable amount of time since I last penned a post. A lot has happened since then. I had my work trip to Rio and then got swept up in a million and one things that I didn’t really have much control over. It’s been a tough last few weeks and today, on the 2nd anniversary of losing my Grandfather, I’m finding myself in a generally reflective mood.

One of the things that has been on my mind for a few months now, is the subject of loneliness. At what point are we actually alone? The reason for this trail of thought is due to a man, probably in his 80’s who I used to pass everyday on my journey to work. He would be walking to, or already sitting, at the bus stop as I drove past. He was always on his own.

It made me sad to see him there like that. His walking cane rested against his left leg, his eyes bright and a small smile as he waited eagerly for the bus to arrive. But why? He could very well have been going shopping, or to visit his friend/loved one in hospital, or perhaps just going to meet someone for a coffee. But what if he had no one? What if this man, whom the years had painted with wrinkles and the sun had weathered his skin, was completely alone in this world.

That last point made me stop and think. He’s not alone. He may not realise it, but every day, even now, when I pass that bus stop I think of that man. If someone is thinking of us, are we ever truly alone? So I don’t know his address or even his name, but he’s in my thoughts and, were I a religious person, he would be in my prayers.

We all have times when the days, weeks, months and yes even years, may drag us down and we all feel that no one knows what we are going through. But why is it that no one understands? In my case, it’s purely because I take no time to let people in and allow them to get to know me. That is easily fixed in time. There is always someone who will understand. Be it a therapist, friend, lover, colleague or anonymous stranger (The Samaritans for example), there is always someone to turn to.

Sometimes we need that grounding, to be reminded that we aren’t alone. We all have to muddle through and carve out a path in life. Rich, poor, hungry, full, married, single. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we take the time to make sure people know that they are never alone. When you next goto the shops or to work, take a look around you at the people you see everyday. Those cars that pass by every day. Those people on the train with you. The people and those cars may be nameless, but chances are that at least one of them will recognise you and notice if you’re not there.

I haven’t seen that man at the bus stop in a few months now. I hope that it’s purely a change in his routine and that nothing has happened to him. My office will be moving soon so I will never see him again, but I hope that he is happy and safe. It may seem a weird thing to say about someone I have never (and will never) meet, but it goes a long way to remind me that no matter what happens in life, there is always someone who recognises you and probably thinks of you.

And for as long as that goes on, I can never really say I’m alone.